Microfluidics, the science that underlies technologies for manipulating minute volumes of liquids, is the new buzzword in biology-and with good reason. Microfluidics has the potential to revolutionize the way routine molecular biology experiments are carried out. This technology is being used to miniaturize biological separation and assay techniques so that entire experiments can be accomplished within diminutive devices that are about as large as a computer chip. Picoliter-to-nanoliter volumes of solvent, sample, and reagents progress through narrow tunnels where they are mixed, separated, and analyzed by any of a variety of techniques.

Microfluidic approaches offer several benefits over their standard molecular biology counterparts. The most obvious benefit is decreased sample volume (which results in decreased waste volume), but microfluidic approaches are also economical in the long run. Perhaps even more importantly, miniaturization can result in dramatically increased performance. Microfluidic technologies are highly amenable to automation and offer the potential for...

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